I was at a St. Patrick’s Day party last week and whenever I meet new people, one of the first questions is “what do you do for a living?” When I say that I am a realtor, it never fails that the conversation immediately turns to all-things housing.
This time, however, I was surprised by the number of people who asked the exact same question. They wanted to know about the health of the local housing market as compared to the rest of the country – presumably based on the negative news they hear in the national media. This is my favorite question because our market is somewhat “insulated” from the rest of the U.S. as we enjoy a large government/military/contractor employment base, higher wages, lower unemployment rate and an overall stronger economy.
So this week, I thought I’d share some of the most recent real estate sales data (February, 2012) for our area as reported by RealEstate Business Intelligence, Inc., the research subsidiary of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.
In Fairfax County, sales were UP 2.6% from last year; the average sold price was UP 0.6%; and the average “days-on-market” was DOWN 5.19%.
In Lorton (ZIP Code 22079), sales were UP 9.67%; the average sold price was UP 3.9%; and the average “days-on-market” was DOWN 21.33
Here are some key insights to the current market:
- Inventory (available homes for sale) is extremely low – about 60% lower than several years ago at this time. This is good news for sellers since there will be less competition for your home.
- “Short Sales” and foreclosures are present, but most are selling quickly…and for very close to market value.
- Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, about 4% for a 30-year fixed rate. However, there have been recent indications that this won’t last much longer.
- Initiatives such as INOVA’s new HealthPlex in Lorton and Base Realignment and Closure including the relocation of employees to Ft. Belvoir and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are starting to impact local real estate as workers look for housing options.
There is no short answer to “How’s the Housing Market?” But looking ahead, our local market should continue to improve with increases in sales activity and modest appreciation in prices.
Ron Kowalski, of , is a realtor with with Re/Max Gateway in Lorton, VA.